Thursday, September 15, 2016

Democracy Day: Encouraging citizen participation


Carin Talero, Business Product Associate Manager at Smartmatic, played a key role during the “Tu Barrio Gana” initiative, where the company provided an e-voting solution on Chile.  
As a member of the team, Carin coordinated the activities of the management and operative teams.  She was also in charge of interacting directly with the client.
As we celebrate Democracy Day, we had a chance to ask Carin about this milestone.

How did you think the Chilean public received this technology?
The reception was very positive especially among senior voters who found that it was really easy to mark their choices directly on the screen. They told me that it was very convenient to validate their vote both on the screen and against the printed voucher the machines generate. 

How do you think Smartmatic promotes changes and improvements in democracies?
A project like this is a clear example of how technology can strengthen democracies. 
With “Tu Barrio Gana”, citizens were able to let the government know which things are really important to them.  The government, in turn, uses the citizen’s inputs to make the budget.  By including citizens in the crucial act of resource allocation, governance is made more inclusive.

Democracy is not just about electing a president every 4 or 5 years. Public consultation  is every bit as important in governance, and our technology is enabling all this to take place.

Another important contribution of technology is the generation of trust among the electors and the public at large.  Our technology guarantees to the voter and all other parties involved that the people’s will is respected. 

Personally, what do you take from this project?
I was pleasantly surprised that in Chile the population is consulted frequently about their budgetary priorities.  Ultimately, they are the ones who really know their needs.
Also, the level of organization shown by the population in this Chilean commune impressed me.  Different citizen organizations, social, sporting and educational ones, made proposals to give the population a voice.  This level of citizen empowerment speaks highly of Chilean democracy. 

Any anecdote you would like to share?
Our coworkers Larissa, Ivan and Mariana remember very fondly that in one of the poll stations at the end of the day, the municipal staff was ready with pencils and notebooks to count the votes and tally results, as they saw the machines generating and printing results immediately.  They were really, really surprised.  The representative of the organization that proposed the project which got the most votes was so happy that he hugged the machine, and told our coworkers that he wanted to congratulate the inventor. “Please say thanks to the creator”, he said. He didn’t think the count would be over so quickly, and he beamed while his people started celebrating with horns and whistles.

Carin Talero

Business Product Associate Manager